HLN’s Robin Meade singing national anthem at NASCAR race (pics)

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NASCAR star Carl Edwards joined HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade” this week to try his hand at sports anchoring and deliver an invitation to Robin Meade from NASCAR to sing the National Anthem at the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday, July 7th in Daytona. And she said yes!

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NASCAR “Eats Fresh” with the Subway 600 Saturday Night

By: Melissa S. Wollering

Jared had better equip each driver with two footlongs for the 600km race at Phoenix International Raceway this Saturday—because we’re NIGHT RACIN’ boys.  It’s also the signal to 14 straight weeks of racing, no weekends off!

The picturesque mile-long, extra fat oval (more circle, less oval) is plopped right down into the mountains.  Phoenix hosts two races this season—the first this weekend and the second in mid-November when drivers in the Chase will race in anticipation of the final shootout at Homestead the following week.

There aren’t too many Saturday night races—those are usually designated for Nationwide Series races (which is on Friday this week).  And this year’s race here is different – there are 63 more laps (375 total) and it starts a bit earlier. So expect pit stops to be important and the track to get faster as night settles in and the temperatures drop. [Read more…]

Martinsville Tests NASCAR Changes & Jimmie Johnson Fatigue

By: Melissa S. Wollering

NASCAR drivers will use the spoiler in competition for the first time at Martinsville Speedway this Sunday since the new car’s debut in 2007. Martinsville doesn’t present any major handling issues, so the first real test probably won’t come until Texas later next month. But Martinsville is a paper-clip shaped short track and is one of Jimmie Johnson’s best—likely to keep his reign of terror alive.

This past week: Dale Earnhardt Jr’s tirade about his speeding penalty at Bristol gets overhyped, Carl and Brad simmer down since their crash, and as always we preview the top contenders for the week.  So put down your brackets for a wee bit, while we preview Martinsville! [Read more…]

Back in Bristol, the Toilet Bowl of NASCAR

By: Melissa S. Wollering

When a race track is half of one mile, you get a kink in your neck just from watching cars go round-and-round in a tiny circle. But Bristol—the World’s Fastest Half Mile—has a rich history in stock car racing and is hosting the Food City 500 this Sunday. The past three spring Bristol races have gone beyond 500 miles though; due to green-and-white checkered finishes. There can always be drama at Bristol.

A lot has happened in the last few weeks in racing: Edwards and Keselowski have been using fighting words; killer whales and stock cars will have something in common soon; Danica put NASCAR aside until June and drivers tested out the new spoiler at Talladega.  So put down your brackets for just two minutes while we preview Bristol! [Read more…]

Does NASCAR Actually Care About Driver Safety?

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By Paul Schmidt

Watching the AMP Energy 500 on Sunday afternoon, I was struck by one thing: Good Lord, this race was boring.

After a stern warning from NASCAR President Mike Helton that drivers would be heavily penalized, the first half of the race was marked largely by single-file racing.  No two-deep.  No three-deep.  Everyone just lined up single-file, and went around in circles. All because of the warning from Helton, which came just a scant two hours before the race. 

That’s right, two hours before racing, NASCAR told all the drivers that most of their strategy would be thrown out the window — It was definitely the name of safety, yes, but why not make the announcement at the beginning of the week so drivers have time to adjust to a rule that has been in place, but not enforced, all season long.

As the race sped towards its conclusion, Ryan Newman got sideways in the stretch and got airborne. The number 39 car flipped and came down on its roof, sliding up the embankment into the wall and then sliding back down the track before rolling over and over, finally coming to a rest in the infield, again on its roof.

Newman, thank goodness, was ok, but after being involved in a crash at Talledega earlier this season with Carl Edwards and being very open about the cars getting airborne, he was obviously disappointed about being the driver, again, to be affected by a horrific crash at the grand oval.

Edwards didn’t mince words after the earlier race, either, saying, “I guess we’ll do this until someone gets killed and then we’ll change it.”

When even your drivers are resigned to someone losing their life, NASCAR, that means it’s time for a change.

Restrictor plates were (in a simplified way) designed to slow the speed of the stock cars, and keep them at a max speed of approximately 195 MPH, and while that in itself has been a success, it hasn’t kept cars on the ground. Even just the slightest bump has sent cars careening through the air in the most disturbing manner.

What does that mean? Perhaps modifications to the tracks are in order. The high banking turns (33 degree banks) at Talladega especially are reason for this — if the banks were lowered, drivers would have to slow down through the turns. As it is now, drivers tend to decelerate very little through the banks, and racing three or four deep, at excessive speeds, even the slightest mistake can cause a massive pileup.

With lowered banks, people would have to slow down, increasing the margin for error.

In a sport where the difference between winning and losing is thousandths of seconds, a small margin of error is what the drivers are used to — it just shouldn’t have to be that small in determining whether they live or die.